Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Netflix Breaks into Animation

At last week's Annecy Animation Festival, Netflix's presentation of their new animation line-up was one of the hottest properties at the festival.

Netflix's Lisa Cobb introduced the company, as well as a number of its artists, presenting (no photos allowed) its new line-up of original animation content to a packed-out audience.

Klaus - Netflix' first animated feature film
As fierce-looking officials patrolled the room making sure no-one was taking any pictures (hence the lack of them here) Netflix pitched itself as "A Studio Without Borders”, introducing original content from Canada, the USA, Zambia and Japan.

Netflix has come seemingly from nowhere to be one of the biggest creators of animation content; audiences for Disney and Nickelodeon were small - and restrained - by comparison with the enthusistic response given to the Netflix line-up.  New yet-to-be-seen projects included "superheroes on a budget" from Zambia, and a "fire-breathing teenage girl" from Japan. 

Melissa Cobb, vice president of Kids & Family, hosted the panel and explained that Netflix's purpose is to enable artists to bring fresh content to the screen. From their Los Angeles studio and production hub in Hollywood, she explained the company's ambition to create “a support structure” for the best animation creators from around the world.

Netflix may be a little over-protective of their new shows, but they are fast getting a reputation for paying artists well and having a hands-off management style, allowing artists to develop their projects free from interference.  This contrasts heavily with the traditional management-heavy bureaucracies at older studios like Disney and Nickelodeon, where getting your project past layers of in-house creative producers and executives can be a Sisyphean task. The joke doing the rounds in Los Angeles right now is that Netflix's answering machine says "thank you for calling Netflix; there are no notes".

Talent is flocking to Netflix; James Baxter (formerly head of animation at DreamWorks) is there, as is Tony Fucile, formerly one of the key creative heads at Pixar. Disney legend Glen Keane has also joined their team.

For animators pitching new projects, Netflix has suddenly become the studio of choice.

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To find out more about our new BA/MArt now recruiting for September 2019, follow this link.   To apply, visit the official page here

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